Berenice Sterling was a first-grade teacher in Bath, Mich., in 1927 when she asked school board treasurer Andrew Kehoe for a favor. Sterling wanted to have some fun with her students on the final day of school, so she wondered if the class could picnic in a shady grove of trees on Kehoe’s farm that Wednesday, May 18.
Kehoe agreed, but he urged Sterling’s class not to wait till that date. Instead, he said, they should have their picnic “right away.”
Asked after May 18 why he thought Kehoe had made that suggestion, Bath resident Monty Ellsworth gave a stark reply:
“I suppose he wanted the children to have a little fun before he killed them.”
The full story of Kehoe — who went from first trying to control a school’s budget to finally just blowing the whole building up, killing 44 people in a fit of rage — is revealed in “Maniac: The Bath School Disaster and the Birth of the Modern Mass Killer” (Little A), out now.